Learning to Love My Leg

My leg refused to move. Did it intend to stay that way forever? Stubborn and still, it lay on the large, flat shiny board that the hospital physiotherapist had left on my bed. I felt like crying.

But using my bossiest voice, I said, ‘Brain, tell my naughty leg to move sideways’. No response. I tried my other leg and away it went, shooting across the bed like a liberated prisoner.

‘You were working perfectly four days ago when I was pushing the wheelbarrow in the garden. Just because they put a screw in one of your bones doesn’t mean you have to go on strike. It’s a dynamic screw after all’.

No movement, not a wriggle. Oh dear.

The hospital didn’t employ ancillary services on weekends and now here I was, on Monday morning after two days of enforced bed rest, and my leg had decided to rebel. I admit I hadn’t treated it kindly. Now I must learn to care for it in a new way.

In the afternoon, another physio came with an occupational therapist to take me for my first walk. I looked a mess: listless hair (who thinks to take shampoo in the ambulance?), a pale face and trailing an intravenous stand. At least I had my pink dressing gown. I’d hate for people to see me in my nightie; I’d had enough of that to last the rest of my life. What a relief that my thoughtful daughter had put my lower dentures in my bag. I hadn’t been wearing them when I fell.

Next morning there was talk about sending me to a rehabilitation hospital nearer home. My heart leapt at the thought of the one in our town, so close for Maurie to visit. I was unaware that it had recently lost its physiotherapy funding, so the one they chose still meant travelling for Maurie.

When he came into my room, I looked into his eyes and saw the weariness washing over him. I wished I hadn’t caused him all this trouble. Each day he had to drive home, cook his meal, wash my clothes and keep up with his outdoor tasks. He spent the rest of his time sleeping. I knew he longed to be out in the garden and now one of our elderly cats was sick. Would she live until I came home?

Our church friends provided some meals for Maurie along with rich fellowship. I saw how much they cared and knew we were not alone. It gave me peace to know he was being helped. I prayed for him…and God answered.

Within a couple of days our son, Paul, travelled all the way from his interstate home to drive his father to and from the hospital each day. What a generous sacrifice. Maurie said it was great to share the time with him and have someone to talk to…and cook delicious meals.

‘The emotion of it all has worn me out’, he admitted.

In the meantime, I occasionally saw a physiotherapist. They gave me some exercise instruction sheets but I mostly worked on my own, the only patient to use the rails that lined the walls in the corridor.

One morning as I tenderly moved my dear old leg at the rail, a nurse called out from the other end of the ward. ‘You can’t go home until you can do this’, she said, and blithely lifted her leg over the rail. I laughed. ‘Stop showing off’, I retorted.

I thought about my injured leg all the time, trying to think of ways to improve its strength. It became my favourite. Although I still hadn’t lifted it as high as the nurse’s, they decided to send me home. After two weeks I was moving at last to the next chapter in my recovery.

Home! Home!! Here I come!

First Day back at Church

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